Late last week, Sydney’s 76 days without rain, thankfully, came to a close. The earth drank deeply of the moisture, as did the parched landscapes that have become denuded from the fringes of grass that lined their periphery, along with the trees and shrubs that have been bent and shrivelled from dehydration over a protracted period. After months of serving as a dusty rugby pitch, Gorman Field turned into an aquatic hub, completely submerged in places. While walking around the Cloister on my daily tour of the classrooms and the grounds, the birds were orchestrating their own choral applause of the moisture; the kookaburras distinctive with their voluble cacophony despite the torpor of the afternoon. Unfortunately for many of our boarding families it is too late. Some weeks back the crops gave up the fight, so in the best of farming frugality, stock was let into the paddocks to consume the stubble which had tried valiantly to grow across the winter months. It has been two difficult years on the land, characterised by floods in a number of areas last year and now drought in many regions this year. While there is deep gratitude for the rains which have arrived, there is also a need to be mindful of those whose livelihoods have been affected by the rainless months and the shortage of funds that will follow over the coming year. In a boarding school such as Riverview, we have a large contingent of parents who suffer the vagaries and the harshness of the weather, so we keep them very much in mind and prayer as a special part of our community who need our support going forward.
There are few words to describe the phantasmagorical scenes and techno displays that were featured at the Annual Media Show that burst into life at Sunstudios last Friday night. Over 350 attended the extravaganza to inspect the 700+ entries, all moved by the photography as well as the visual and digital images on display. The sensory bombardment was matched if not eclipsed by the creativity, technical sophistication and aesthetic beauty of the exhibits which profiled the quality of work in which the boys have been engaged across the semester. Technology has produced new frontiers in media, and the boys have pushed their own individual horizons through informed and measured use of a raft of techniques and devices. Among many communiques which were received in the aftermath of the Show, the following captured the essence of the night:
I cannot tell you just how impressed we were with the Media Show on Friday night. The setup, the quality of the work and the professionalism of the event was outstanding. A real tribute to you [Justine] and your dedication in supporting the boys. (P. O’B)
During the week, the O’Kelly Theatre came alive with the Year 10 Production of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. This wonderful adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s science fiction classic featured a cast of 22 students – 14 boys from Riverview and six girls from Monte Sant’ Angelo, all of whom gave fine performances on the stage with the support from those who orchestrated events behind the scenes. Not surprisingly, Ms Ange Newey as Director of the production, created that lively mix of animation and suspense that kept the audience captivated throughout. Congratulations are extended to all who contributed to such a fine product on the night be that staging, acting, lighting, set design and costuming, along with the myriad elements that made the hours of rehearsals produce such appreciable gains through performance.
2017 celebrates the 120th Anniversary of the Old Ignatians’ Union (OIU), which we understand to be the oldest union of Old Boys in any school in New South Wales. It formally came into being on August 27th, 1897 and to commemorate the event, a dinner was held at the College on Tuesday evening that drew an attendance that spanned place and time. This is one of the most valued and esteemed Old Boys’ Association in the nation, forged from the crucible of a school that has formed its boys to be ‘men for others’. Of the 23 Old Boys who are alive and served as Chair of the OIU since 1984, 18 were in attendance. Two apologies were received from Old Boys who are in aged care and three were precluded from attending with illness. And, decades after these men departed they come back together for common purpose and shared community, to share in experiences across generations – all of which were nurtured in the nativity that formed their education, their world view and the essence of their experiences at Riverview. You will see from the dress code of that very first meeting that these men were grounded in principle and integrity, and the works of the OIU now feature among the most prominent social justice works of the College including the Cana Camp, the Prison Ministry, the First Nations Mentor Program and many more. What were seminal beginnings in the latter 19th Century have matured into works of great traction and resonance in the early 21st Century, each in accord with the mission of the Society and its quest to respond to those who are afflicted by adversity and hardship.
Left: The very first OIU | Right: A gathering of OIU presidents past, present and future
The HSC Examinations roll on, as does the educational program in its myriad forms. Let us keep in mind the intentions of the young men who each day confront the rigours of public examinations and the stresses and strains that are part of them. Equally, let us be prayerful in our support for the members of our boarding community and the difficulties they confront after successive seasons of hardship. And, may we be blessed with more rain after the dry and withering months that has seen Sydney’s normally lush flora parch and wither, but that is now coming to new life.
Best wishes for the week ahead.